Thursday, May 13, 2010

Paula Deen, eat your heart out!

I recently read an article in Garden and Gun Magazine about the Southern, home cooking style restaurant rage that has invaded NYC. All I have to say is, “it’s about time!” How they’ve managed this long without fried chicken, country ham with red eye gravy, collard greens, fried green tomatoes, homemade biscuits, grits, banana pudding and sweet tea is beyond me.

I grew up in the South. My grandparents had a farm in Mississippi, where I spent my summers riding horses, fishing, making pets out of farm animals, watching the sunset over the pond with my grandfather, and helping my grandmother cook up some of the most amazing food on the planet. She NEVER used a recipe or a measuring cup…it was always just “a handful of this and a pinch of that.” She knew everything about anything that sprang from the earth. Her garden produced plump, beautiful vegetables that we picked just minutes before she cooked them. She made preserves and jams out of fruit from the orchard. We gathered fresh eggs for breakfast every morning. A chicken was “sacrificed” weekly for Sunday dinner. (I was never really happy about that, but her fried chicken and chicken n’ dumplings were the best.)

Mamaw always seemed to be covered with flour. She made hot, flaky biscuits everyday to accompany the eggs, the buttery grits, and crunchy, salty, country ham from the smokehouse. Lunch was usually either fried chicken, fried pork chops, fried catfish, (do you see a pattern?) or chicken and dumplings, with collard greens, fried green tomatoes, creamy white beans with ham hocks, black-eyed peas, mashed potatoes, and sweet creamed corn. All of this was served with freshly churned butter and my personal addiction, sweet tea, or as I like to call it, “the table wine of the South.” And if that wasn’t enough to clog your arteries, there was dessert…banana pudding, steaming blackberry cobbler, or buttery apple or peach pie with melting homemade vanilla ice cream on top. OMG… I’m so hungry!

Memories of our favorite comfort foods are one of life’s great pleasures. Regardless of where a person is from, it’s always fun to watch their eyes light up and glaze over when remembering their favorite childhood meal.

So yippee, New Yorkers….have a plate of biscuits and a big, sweet iced tea for me…and go watch the sunset!

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